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The holiday season is a time for families to come together in the darkest time of the year, in order to stay warm and celebrate being together. This year has presented a whole new set of challenges and the holiday season is no exception.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that gatherings with family and friends who do not already live together could increase the chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19. They also added that travel of any kind could increase your chance of getting and spreading this dangerous virus, recommending postponing travel to protect yourself and others this year.
However, just because you can’t meet in person does not mean that you still can’t all celebrate together as a family. This year a virtual gathering may be the safest choice in order to be together while still protecting you, your families and others. Let’s explore some tips to ensure that your virtual gathering runs smooth and is enjoyed by all this holiday season.
Choosing Your Virtual Tools
Most of us have had the opportunity to learn how to use various web conferencing programs this year due to previous virtual meetings and stay at home work meetings.
However, if you haven’t had the chance to determine which program would work best for your family here are a few programs to consider for your family reunion;
- Zoom: One of the most popular video conferencing apps this year allows you to host up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes for free. If one person subscribes to the service you can meet indefinitely. If you have frequent large gatherings then this platform is worth the investment.
- Skype: This service is free and includes many extra features such as screen sharing, instant messaging and a real time speech to caption feature that is great for people with hearing issues.
- Google Meet: This service is also free as long as each member has a free gmail email address. The real time talk to text translation is a wonderful feature for users with hearing impairments.
Make Sure Everyone Is Prepared
There is nothing more frustrating than getting on a group call to celebrate together just to spend the time working out technical difficulties. The more everyone involved can be prepared, the better. It is in your best interest to hold a test meeting earlier in the week to make sure everyone’s microphones and cameras are in working order. You can set this up ahead of time via group email or text message.
It is also a good idea to set a firm beginning and end time to your meeting to ensure that everyone is on the same page and plans won’t be conflicting. It can be incredibly frustrating when not everyone in the family can be present at the virtual family reunion due to conflicting plans and poor communication.
Making a Plan
As this is new territory, it can be confusing what to do online once everyone arrives online. Some people may speak a lot while others remain silent the entire time. Makes sure that everyone feels included by creating a schedule ahead of time and activities that allow everyone to participate. You could play a trivia game, prepare a slide show, contests, open gifts, share recipes or take turns telling stories together. Just make sure everyone feels that they have a chance to participate.
The job of the organizer is not to lead the entire family reunion, but to delegate responsibility. This can take a lot of pressure off of you and can ensure that everyone feels included and invested in a successful family reunion.
One person can host the meeting, making sure that everyone knows the plan and that a loose schedule is adhered to. Another person can be in charge of the technical side of things making sure everyone’s technology is installed and ready for the big day. Another person can prepare an activity for everyone to share in. Just remember, this is a family gathering and you don’t have to do it alone.
Enjoying Family from a Distance
Although planning a virtual family reunion might seem overwhelming, it’s a great way to be together and make sure that everyone is safe. This season is all about being close to the ones you love. A digital reunion is the perfect way to get people together at a safe distance.
Speech recognition in conversation is an important aspect of communicating and connecting with loved ones. If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, we’re here to help! Contact us today to schedule a hearing test.